John's starts all of his metal fish sculptures using a piece of high grade copper or stainless steel sheeting. The metals are chosen for both their strength and longevity, which are also used in roofing, flashing or other home or exterior purposes. They are equally at home indoors or out in the garden.
John draws the shape onto the metal sheet and cuts it out with aviation snips. Using a variety of different shaped chisels, punches, hammers, and mallets John brings the form to life, often working from both sides to bring out the detail.
Once the shaping is complete, the edges are filed smooth, the surface is carefully cleaned, and the copper pieces are treated with a variety of patinas to create different colors and effects. Occasionally paints are also used.
Once dry, the surfaces are clear-coated with a durable transparent film, to preserve and protect it. If the piece is kept indoors, it will remain essentially as when purchased. As with most art, direct sunlight may affect it.
If kept outdoors, the copper pieces will continue to slowly change, creating more of an "antiqued" look to John's classic fish shapes. A lot of this depends on the exposure to sun, rain, heat, cold, humidity, etc. Copper will not rust, but the patina will slowly change if exposed to the elements, just as a copper roof or ornamental copper would. Like any architectural detail, aging only makes it more interesting and desirable.
The stainless steel pieces are colored using only a heat technique, essentially "airbrushing" the surface by heating the steel to the get the rainbow of colors, which are permanent. No finish is needed.
On most fish, either a decorative glass marble or taxidermy fisheye is added to give the piece more realism or character.
Finally, a metal hanging hook is cold welded to the back at the ideal balancing point, using a high grade metal epoxy. (Heat welding would affect the front finish.)